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Let my Death be Filled with Dancing
Just the word makes me shiver, and my spine tingle, and my skin crawl. I don't
like it, and I don't' like talking about it. I don't think anyone should talk
about it either. That's how I was raised. I'm 19 years old and I don't think
I'll ever die. Life is all I see in front of me, and I'm in no rush to finish
But I suppose at funerals you must discuss it. That's the theme, after all, of
these strange somber black painted displays of corpses before they are tossed
into the ground for their flesh to rot and maggots to eat away at their decaying
organs. I don't understand them and I don't suppose I ever will. What's the
point? I keep asking myself as I stand there, hands clasped in front of me and
wondering if I should be crying so people will think I'm moarning the right way.
If my eyes remain tearless then my relatives and friends might think less of me.
They might talk behind my back and whisper to eachother,
"Why doesn't that
Crowley girl show emotion? Has she no heart? Has she no soul?" My greatest flaw
of my entire life has been my unbelievable urge to please people, and I care too
much about people's opinions of me. Taking a psychology class in college taught
me that I am insecure, have low self esteem, and have a tendency towards a
dependent personality disorder. But I think
it's all bullshit really... I mean, sure, I have low self esteem compared to
half the people my age, but would you just listen to the way the so called
Normal people talk about themselves?
They think their freaking God's gift to the
planet, without a fault in their personality and everything they do is the
greatest accomplishment in the history of mankind. My short and sweet conclusion
is that more people need to eat some humble pie and get over themselves before
we all become God, or something like it. However, I don't think that's possible
because the people I know with super high self-esteem are selfish (well duhhhhh)
and greedy and altogether insensitive of other people around them. Now my
sociology class would provide the explanation that it is the American culture
which has brought us all up to value self esteem as being the most important
aspect of a young person's happiness and good upbringing. So we could blame
society, but that seems too easy... and it's just what a
selfish person would say to deflect the blame off of him/herse
Forgive me, I digress.
There I stand, waiting for some expression of sorrow to cross my face so that
everyone else will see that yes, I am hurting inside. Yes, death is horrible,
death is terrible, and I hate it, just like everybody else.
What I do not understand, though, is why so many Christians hate death. It was
my understanding that they believe in heaven, which comes after you die... so
wouldn't it be a grand thing for someone to die and leave this horrible place
filled with pain and suffering and poverty and war, if they are going to a
beautiful paradise with fluffy clouds and angels? Should we not celebrate that
wonderful day instead of feeling sorry for ourselves? If heaven is in fact, a
fact, then by God, I'm ready to break out the disco ball and have myself a party
for the lucky girl. Come one come all, join the Crowley family in a party to
celebrate the going away of our dear friend and relative, Millie Crowley, who
was blessed yesterday to leave Earth and become an angel.
It should be a party, should it not?
After all, death is only temporary. There is no death. That's what they believe,
"Delia, stop fidgeting." My mother, the perfect model of a woman in a three
piece suit and impeccably done makeup that always makes her look like a
celebrity, wore her mother's pearls around her neck in honor of her recent
departure. I had always admired and hated her; admired her for her ease and
natural grace with others and her incredible toughness through adversity, but
hated her for wanting me to be graceful and lovely when I am clearly not, and
for showing her disappointment in me in such obvious ways. Constant disapprovals
in my choice of friends, my dreams for the future, my way of speaking, my
behavior in public, and above all other things, my resistance for acting like
"most girls my age should act" around boys.
I frown and glare at her crossly. There are certain things you don't tell a 22
year old woman to do. I had always resented people trying to boss me around, and
certainly things like that don't change.
I close my eyes. It seems like the thing to do. Perhaps people will think I am
trying to hold back the tears, that are just waiting to burst out of my lids
like a rainstorm. I know they are talking behind my back about the day... the
day I'll pour out all my grieving into the open and let the waterworks spill out
of obligation to everyone else.
I see nothing, but hear the voices of various people speaking about the woman
who gave so many people love and light to their own pathetic, sorry lives. I
listen to their words and soak up my favorite lines, and repeat them inside my
head over and over again. I wonder if anyone notices my smile creep up my face.
At first I care, but then quickly realize nothing matters at all.
"She thought nothing of herself, only of everyone else around her."
"Her smile lit up the room and people were happier when she came in."
"There was nothing I wouldn't do for that woman. She was the most generous and
most kind and most selfless."
"She was the kind of person everyone adored and nobody could ever dream of
"All she wanted to do was help people. She was the closest person I knew to a
I sighed happily.
"What is this," my mother said sternly, nudging me with her elbow. "Stop
Opening my eyes sharply I pretended that she was small, small, just barely a
foot tall and looking up at me with scared, insecure, and unintimidating eyes. I
shook my head, knowing that it was silly to be afraid of such a small thing, and
smiled larger just for her. I showed her all my beautiful teeth made straight
from four years of orthodentistry, and then the victorious smile melted into a
I could feel the heat radiating off of her cheeks, for Christ's sake. It was
awful, and I didn't even care. She could have been sobbing her eyes out and I
would have just smiled harder.
Why should I be forced to cry for Millie Crowley, when all I want to do is laugh
for how great she is?
My father stands next to my mother, also looking forlorn and sad like everyone
else. I want to hug him and tell him not to be sad, that Millie was
extraordinary and unique and wonderful in a thousand ways, and that her life was
surly not wasted. She was a great woman who did so many things in her eighty
eight years of life; more than most people could even dream about doing.
I only regret not speaking to her more...and not wanting to get to know her
better. Sure I was her granddaughter, but I didn't know her really. She visited
us occasionally on holidays and we saw her sometimes during the summer. That was
all, and most of our conversation was polite chatter about what I was doing in
school and how I liked it so far. I wish I spoke to her, not as a grandmother,
but as a person. As a woman who I may aspire to be one day.
Even this does not bring tears to my eyes, because it is my own fault that I
didn't take the opportunities and did not seize any moment we could have shared
together. It is my own fault, and I do not have the right to feel pitiful.
Or maybe it was nobody's fault. Maybe that's just the way of things sometimes.
We waste too much time feeling regretful about things we should have done, could
have done, or would have done had some situation been slightly different. If I
knew what I know now... I would have changed the world for the better, ended
world hunger, started world peace, and saved the world from destruction and
She was a centered soul. So centered that nobody could touch her with harmful
words. They would roll off her body like little droplets of water, becoming
nothing but smooth little streams and rivers flowing into the sewer where they
belonged. Tell her she is deserving of hatred, and she will smile genuinely and
say that the root of hatred is fear, so anyone who bestows hatred upon her is a
After the last person ended the sorrowful speeches about the tragic loss of
Millie Crowley, people began to file out of the funeral home with heavy steps
and sagging faces. So unsettling this was to me. I wanted so desperately to
raise my hands and begin applauding for what a great job the friends and family
of Millie did to capture the greatness of her spirit, and to attempt to lead a
celebration of the legacy which would remain in our hearts forever. Death needs
not be so tragic!
My mother pushes me through the aisle and outside the funeral home doors. The
day is brightly lit by the sun, with not a cloud in the sky. We are at once
surrounded by a mob of hysterical, comforting, or cautious friends/relatives
wanting to make themselves feel better by saying a kind word to us. The cautious
ones don't know what to say, or how to say it, or even if they should say
anything at all. Those are the ones I like, because at least they are showing
concern with how we are reacting to the death. I admit though, I do appreciate
the hysterical relatives for their display of emotion, and their honesty to tell
you exactly how devastated they are.
"Awful, just worse than a blade ripping out your insides and then grinding them
up in a blender," my aunt cries to her sister, wiping the tears on my mother's
"I don't know how I shall survive now, and I don't think I want to." a friend
says woefully. She met Millie at a cooking class they took together a few years
ago, and had had the ultimate privilege of experiencing Millie's warm, perfect
aura until her untimely death.
"You must feel like dying," my cousin Andrew says to me bluntly. He is dry eyed,
but knows me well and knows that I was extremely close to Millie Crowley. "If
there's anything, you know, I am good at listening. I want to make sure that you
will be okay."
I smile fondly and thankfully. He has always been a companion of mine, a
confidant, the brother I never had. I often used to pretend that he was in fact
my brother, and that we would stay friends and confidants forever. He is the
first one through this hellish, chaotic week who has offered his very own
condolences, not because it makes him feel better, but because he wants to make
me feel better. I almost cry at this, and bury my head inside his shoulder so
people will not notice.
All he does is stroke my hair, hug me tight, and suddenly I am an absolute mess
in the middle of all my relatives and friends. Oh look, they think to
themselves, the Crowley girl is finally crying. Thank the Lord she has a soul. I
thought it might be frozen or made of stone.
I don't see anything, I don't feel anything around me. All I know is that
Andrew, my best friend in the world, cares about me and wants me to feel better
even when I know that he must be breaking apart inside himself. That is why I am
crying, and that is why they are tears of joy. I am burying my head in his
shoulder so that people won't see my smile. I am so happy and I sort of feel
ashamed because of it. I shouldn't be this happy. It's a funeral. For my poor
dead grandma Millie. And she was a wonderful woman, and I am sad that she is
gone. But all I can see are good things; I am happy that she brought so much
happiness to all these people's lives, and I am happy that she shared herself
with all of us with endless love and support for the things we shared with her
in return. I am so happy I could burst!!
"Delia, are you alright?" Andrew asks me, when looking into my face he sees my
damp face smiling back at him. He's confused... he thinks I should be sad too,
like the rest of the normal folk. The rest of the decent people.
But I know he'll understand. I sigh and hug him again, and then tell him that
yes, I'm okay. But are you okay? He nods and says that he'll be fine.
"I'm happy, actually." I tell him in secret. Without acknowledging his confused,
concerned stare, I go on, "Look around you. Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it
amazing?" I watch relatives hug each other, sobbing uncontrollably and sharing
each other's grief for the loss of their dear friend. "There is love in the
Andrew is silent standing by me, as we watch people console each other, say kind
words, offer their support and unconditional love. It's like a movie, a really
good and twistedly happy one. Is it possible to be sad and happy at the same
time? I think they call that emotion bittersweet. Whatever it is, I am pleased
My psychology class has also labeled me as having a tendency towards Manic
At my funeral, there shall be a rule saying that black attire is not allowed.
There will be dancing, by God, and there will be cake. Bright colored cake, with
the words, "WE LOVE YOU DELIA CROWLEY!" in pink letters. The border should be
bright green, and the rest of the cake a stark white. Balloons will be
everywhere, all yellow and all smiling back at the people looking up at them.
Ribbons don't hurt either, either in shiny gold or a metallic looking silver.
There will be white lights, and a disco ball in the center of the reception
area, and all my favorite music will be played. They will serve guests
appetizers of sushi and a meal of macaroni and cheese; two of my absolute
favorite food items. My friends will sing a karaoke song of their choosing, in
honor of me, and they will go around telling funny stories about things I have
done and embarrassing situations I have been in. Well there are so many, after
Hopefully, if there are such things as ghosts, I will be one, and be watching.
And instead of feeling sad and morose, I will feel like dancing too, under the
white lights and disco music.
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